Oh the monster heel gimmick and how beloved it once was. At one point monster heels were the hottest heels you could have and their hype would last well into the 2000’s, however everything must come to an end and unfortunately I think it’s time for this gimmick to be put to rest.
The generic monster heel gimmick that we see the likes of Rusev, Big Show, and Ryback use was indeed at one point a very hot topic. We had the likes of Big Van Vader who was not only one of the best but also one of the most respected and toughest wrestlers there ever was, and Bam Bam Bigelow who could be looked at as somewhat the same, and with Kane debuting and immediately making an impact by feuding with his “brother” The Undertaker also put instant credibility on how you could get far with a gimmick like this, however these times are long passed as we no longer have stars that can truly shine with the gimmick anymore. Rusev was the last star who truly sold the gimmick, however this was due to the fact that he was also an Anti-American character which also helped him become a bigger personality, which is where most monsters fail. As revered as they were and still are today, the time of heels such as Big Van Vader and Bam Bam Bigelow has long passed, and now the creative team are essentially trying to beat a dead horse by overloading the roster with a load of monsters.
Since taking away his Russian Hero, Anti-American edge, Rusev has been booked in an angle involving a love issue between him, Lana, and Dolph Ziggler. (remember when he was the world champion? Wow) So, what I can deduce by this is that the creative team has absolutely no idea what they want to do with Rusev. They want him to stay a stale monster, but at the same time they are trying to put him in a rather pointless and outdated rivalry involving him being paired up with Summer Rae to cope with the loss of Lana to (former World Champion, seriously) Dolph Ziggler. There are many other culprits of going to the empty well that is the monster gimmick, (Big Show, Mark Henry, Ryback etc.) but in order for me to make a list of all of them I would need to dedicate a whole article to it. Let’s just get down to how we are going to fix this
The issue with monster gimmicks is that there is no personality whatsoever. It’s boring and stale and doesn’t get anybody excited, becuase everybody knows exactly how everything is going to go with this. He’s gonna debut, beat a bunch of people, and then most likely get fed to Cena to make him look stronger. There is no personality, and thus there is no way to get invested in the character as there is none. So to put it simply, the way to solve this issue is… GIVE THEM SOME PERSONALITY. Don’t just have a bland guy there who just stands there and looks tough until the bell rings then just destroys everybody and wins, it bores us because it’s literally every segment we watch nowadays. The difference between monsters like Big Van Vader and Big Show is that VADER HAD A PERSONALITY.
He didn’t take anything from anybody he didn’t want to, he could cut rather intense promos, and his matches weren’t just average monster squash matches, he could put on some of the best matches there ever were, Big Show however, puts on the same punch and squash matches with people, then goes on to have a pointless PPV match that he’ll most likely lose. He has no personality, no mic skills, and nothing interesting. Take Rusev for example. If they had simply kept the Anti-American gimmick they could still sell Rusev as a serious heel, however they turned him into a joke that nobody can take serious anymore, by putting him in a ridiculous love affair angle with Lana and Dolph Ziggler. Why they ever split Rusev and Lana up I will never know, it was the perfect pairing of Rusev being a monster AND a Russian Hero who hate America, and Lana who could add greatly to the personality that Rusev needed to stand out, but once they took Lana away, the gimmick started to die a slow painful death that it feels like we’re on the tail end of. Ryback could turn heel and go back to being the bully Ryback that actually at one point gave John Cena a very good fight. It had a great deal of personality to it and legitimately made you pay attention to the TV. Again, I could go on about how many of them need saving but it would take all night to type.
The point is, personality is the key to becoming a valuable asset to the product, and if you have no personality, then you will get no interest from the crowd. The answer to me is very simple, but what do you think of the monster gimmick? Do you believe it’s run it’s course? Do you think it should be saved or simply thrown away for good?